The royal family suffered many ups and downs throughout 2019. Harry and Meghan welcomed a baby boy into the world, for instance, while Prince Philip dramatically crashed his car. But in September 2019 the British royal family shared thrilling news about Princess Beatrice of York. It turned out that while holidaying in Italy with boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, she’d received his proposal of marriage. Yet after Beatrice had said yes, her mom, Sarah, Duchess of York, had a few choice words to say about the nuptials in general – and Edoardo in particular.
After all, Sarah Ferguson knows what it’s like to marry into the royal family – because that’s exactly what she did. So she could give plenty of advice to Edoardo on what to expect… if she wanted to. When Sarah married Prince Andrew in 1986, you see, she became “Her Royal Highness.” But, as she found out, there are plenty of downsides to that lofty title.
In fact, Sarah – or “Fergie” as she became known – was a frequent target of the tabloid newspapers during her marriage. The papers even labeled her a vulgar and unimpressive member of the royal family. And after Sarah gave birth to two children and subsequently put on weight, the media turned to body shaming and nicknamed her “the Duchess of Pork.”
The marriage between Sarah and Andrew ran into difficulties, too. In 1991, for instance, Fergie was spotted with the American millionaire Steve Wyatt – and the tabloids had a field day. Then, the following year, the Duke and Duchess of York separated – though the actual divorce didn’t materialize until 1996.
Sarah, meanwhile, continued to make front-page news with her behavior. In the summer of 1992, you see, the Daily Mirror published photographs of the duchess in a San Tropez holiday villa with U.S. businessman John Bryan. And the pair were in a very compromising position: Sarah was sunbathing with nothing covering her top half – and Bryan was sucking on her toes.
The photo scandal was huge – especially since Sarah hadn’t officially divorced Andrew yet. And the ramifications lasted for years. In 1995, for instance, Princess Margaret reportedly wrote a message to the duchess that read, “You have done more to bring shame on the family than could ever have been imagined.” It’s unsurprising, then, that Sarah kept tight-lipped about this event for a long time.
So, four years after they’d separated, Prince Andrew and Sarah divorced. Ever since then, Sarah has occupied a complicated place in the royal family – while trying to stay out of trouble. She no longer enjoys the title of “Her Royal Highness,” of course, but she can style herself as “Sarah, Duchess of York…” unless she marries someone else.
Scandal-hit Sarah hasn’t received invitations to some of the biggest royal events of recent years, either. For example, she didn’t attend the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. And though Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked her to attend their wedding ceremony, Fergie didn’t get an invite to the evening reception – which reportedly upset her. After all, her daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, were at both parties.
Beatrice and Eugenie are close to their mother, too – even though they occupy different rungs of the royal ladder. The women have even spoken in interviews about how much they love their mom and often attend events with her, too. The divorce doesn’t seem to have had any effect on their lives, either. And the princesses have said that they’re grateful to both parents for remaining friends afterward.
Eugenie was the first of the sisters to get married – and of course Sarah had a major role in that ceremony. The duchess was by her daughter’s side when the princess got hitched to wine merchant Jack Brooksbank in 2018. She also had one of the best seats in the chapel: the front-row pew reserved for guests of honor.
Sarah’s presence at her daughter’s wedding seemed to improve her standing in the royal family, too. Prince Philip – who had reportedly held a grudge against Sarah for the scandalous toe-sucking incident – was also at the wedding. Vanity Fair wrote, “Yesterday the hatchet was buried, and Sarah was once again welcomed back into the royal fold.”
After the wedding, Sarah gave an interview to Hello! magazine to have her say. She said, “I cannot be more grateful to Eugenie’s grandmother [Queen Elizabeth] for making this day so memorable. I am so grateful for all the hard work and kindness behind the scenes to [ensure] a special day for our daughter.”
Sarah went on, “Jack and Eugenie’s happiness and love for one another shone through on the day. We are so delighted that Jack is now officially part of the family. He is everything we would choose for Eugenie.” And regarding the bride wearing a backless dress to show a scoliosis scar, the proud mom said, “She is an inspiration to young women everywhere.”
Beatrice also had an important role in her sister’s wedding – as the maid of honor. But one year later, the family revealed that Beatrice too would become a bride. Yes, in September 2019 the Duke of York’s office put out the declaration that Princess Beatrice would shortly marry her boyfriend, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
Beatrice and her new husband-to-be also put out a statement via the official royal family Twitter account. They said, “We are extremely happy to be able to share the news of our recent engagement. We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can’t wait to be married.”
For his part, Edoardo is a property developer and a scion of Italian nobility. At first, rumor had it that the couple might marry in Edoardo’s homeland. But Beatrice’s mom, Sarah, quickly put a stop to that idea – although it hasn’t yet been decided which venue the pair will choose. Still, Edoardo had apparently been preparing to pop the question for months – and had even helped to design the ring.
And the ring in question is a truly stunning one. The man behind it, Shaun Leane, gave an interview to Town & Country magazine about the process. He said, “It was Edoardo and I collaborating in the design. I believe bespoke should be a fusion of the designer and the emotions, memories and details of the collector.”
How did Fergie feel about all this? Well, even though Beatrice and Edoardo had only been going steady for 11 months before the engagement, the couple have known each other for much longer than that. Edoardo is a family friend, in fact, and the two sets of parents have been tight for decades. His mom, Nikki Williams-Ellis, described the two as “made for each other.” And the pair told the press, “We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness.”
But there will be at least one unusual aspect of this upcoming royal wedding. You see, Edoardo has a son called Christopher – who is also known as “Wolfie.” His mother is an American woman called Dara Huang, who was engaged to Edoardo for three years before they split up.
However, it appears that there are no hard feelings between Edoardo and Dara. After the engagement announcement, in fact, Dara released a statement that read, “I wish the best for Edo and Beatrice and look forward to uniting our families.” And she’s also expected to attend the wedding ceremony alongside her son.
Wolfie will be the best man at the wedding, too. A spokesman confirmed to the Daily Mail that the little boy will hand his dad the all-important rings at the ceremony – the youngest person in British royal history to be given such a responsibility. But his parents and step-mother-to-be believe that he’s more than up to the challenge.
According to People, you see, Beatrice is already a great second mother to the child. The magazine reported that a source said in October 2019, “Beatrice is already showing that she’s a fantastic step-mommy already. They’ve been on family vacations together, [and] they are really happy. There’s no better person they could have for a step-mommy.”
The source reportedly went on, “[Dara and Edoardo] are a unit, a really good unit together. Everyone is really happy, [and] they are very supportive. He’s an awesome father, period, end of story!” Edoardo and Dara have joint custody of Wolfie, too; the boy apparently stays with his father whenever his mother is working in Asia.
So Princess Beatrice will become part of a modern, blended family when she ties the knot with Edoardo. Interestingly, though, she will also become a countess. You see, Edoardo is a male descendant of the Italian House of Savoy. This means that when Beatrice marries Edoardo both she and any children she might have with him can have titles.
The Mail on Sunday spoke to Edoardo’s dad – Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi – who confirmed it. He said, “Edoardo is the only male descendent taking the family into the next generation. He is a count; his wife will be a countess automatically and any of their children will be counts or nobile donna.”
So what did Sarah, Duchess of York, make of the engagement? Well, she told the Press Association in October 2019, “It’s just extraordinary. She’s just such a beauty and to see her eyes shining…” She also approved of the choice of husband, saying, “Edo, I’ve known him all my life… I’ve known Edo since he was four, and he’s got a lovely mom: Nikki. It’s really, really good news. I’m really, really proud of them both.”
And Beatrice’s dad, Andrew, the Duke of York, was also ecstatic. He joined the duchess in a joint statement that read, “We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged – having watched their relationship develop with pride. We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man. We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future.”
Beatrice and her intended threw an engagement bash in December 2019 at the Chiltern Firehouse hotel in Marylebone, London. And it was a star-studded affair – with Pippa Middleton, James Matthews, Viscountess Emma Weymouth, James Blunt and Ellie Goulding all showing up. That’s in addition to the Duke and Duchess of York, of course.
However, as with many other events in 2020, Beatrice’s wedding has been delayed. But that hasn’t stopped the speculation about what the bride might wear when it does happen. In March 2020, in fact, the Daily Express spoke to jewelry expert Grant Mobley about Beatrice’s tiara possibilities.
Grant told the publication, “The top contender for Princess Beatrice’s wedding day tiara is the York Tiara that her mother, Sarah Ferguson, wore on her wedding day. The piece, which features floral scrollwork with a five-carat diamond at the top, was gifted to the Duchess of York by the Queen.”
It’s common among royals to wear a tiara with a history for a wedding ceremony, of course. For example, Eugenie wore a piece called the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara – created in 1919 – for her wedding to Jack Brooksbank. It was a loan from her grandmother, the Queen, and she was delighted at getting to use it.
Beatrice’s wedding dress is also a matter of speculation. Royal watchers even went back through past statements to see if there were any clues about a designer. And it turned out that in 2012 the princess said at the British Fashion Awards that her preferred designer is Erdem – because of the “lace and very feminine cuts.”
Elsewhere, people are already talking about future children for Beatrice. In March 2020, for instance, an anonymous source apparently told New Idea magazine that the princess was “desperate to start a family” and wasn’t going to let the postponement “stop her from trying.”
The anonymous insider reportedly went on, “[Beatrice’s] plan all along has been to fall pregnant on her honeymoon – straight after the wedding. But now that the wedding’s off, Bea doesn’t want to wait anymore. The truth is it could be a year before they can walk down the aisle, and she’s not prepared to put her baby plans on hold for that long.”
The alleged source mentioned Eugenie as well, saying, “Beatrice also loves the idea of her and Eugenie having babies at around the same time so that [their] children can grow up together, like they did. She doesn’t want to have a big age gap between the cousins, so they’re trying to time [it so] that they have their babies at the same time.”
So, according to the source, Edoardo, Beatrice and Eugenie all want to have children soon. The insider reportedly said of the Italian count, “He’s already a dad and desperately wants more kids too, and he’s happy to follow Bea’s heart and wishes on this. And the truth is, they both want a baby – married or not.”
The subject of children also came up when Sarah gave an interview to the website Royal Central in April 2020. The duchess was promoting two new children’s books in Australia: Genie Gems and The Enchanted Oak Tree. So, naturally, the question of possible future grandchildren was put to her.
The interviewer asked Sarah, “With the upcoming wedding and Princess Eugenie marrying 18 months ago, you must be excited about the prospect of one day sharing your books with grandchildren? Do you think we can expect any special news for the palace soon?” And the duchess answered, “If I am lucky enough to be blessed with grandchildren, it will be the most wonderful sense of joy for me. And of course, I will be making up stories every day for them.”
Sarah also revealed that her next work would be a tribute to Beatrice, as she has already written one for Eugenie. She said, “My next book is going to be called Trixi-Belle – which is for Beatrice. [My daughter] is the happiest I have ever seen her in my life, and she and Edo have a great love for each other and [a] passion for life.”
And the Duchess of York added, “For them to be getting married fills my heart with joy.” So, when Beatrice and Edoardo do eventually get to tie the knot, the mother of the bride will be on hand to celebrate and help out. And shortly after that, she may even become a grandmother.
Sarah is not the only one having her say on matters, though. After The Crown debuted on Netflix in 2016, it’s fair to say that the royal drama quickly became a phenomenon. And as the show – which follows the events of Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign – looks set to take viewers into the 1980s, there’s a good chance that the fourth season may feature Prince Harry. But what does the prince himself think about the show? Well, he let his true feelings slip to a biographer – and what he had to say may surprise you.
And given the scandals that The Crown has covered so far during its run, Harry may be forgiven for not wanting to have his life raked over on screen. The first season of the show, for example, dealt with the events surrounding Princess Margaret’s controversial romance with RAF Group Captain Peter Townsend. The second season, meanwhile, delved into the royal family’s dealings with the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Season two of The Crown also explored a particularly thorny topic: the rumors that have swirled about infidelity on Prince Philip’s part. During the course of several episodes, we see Philip – portrayed by actor Matt Smith – making eyes at a female journalist and dining at a covert gentlemen’s club. And while the show never directly paints the Duke of Edinburgh as having been unfaithful, it does hint at him having an eye for the ladies.
The Crown even appears to address how the British royal family are viewed by outsiders. In season two, for instance, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy are seen visiting Buckingham Palace for dinner. And during the visit, the Queen – who is shown to already be worried about being perceived as old-fashioned – overhears Jackie criticizing the monarchy as “outdated.”
But, of course, the royals have had plenty to deal with in the decades since. And 2019 in particular proved to be a rocky year for the British monarchy, with several damaging scandals emerging that would be perfect fodder for a show such as The Crown. It all began in January 2019, when the then-97-year-old Philip was involved in a car crash.
Philip had been driving his Land Rover near the royal estate of Sandringham when he hit another car. And while the duke’s vehicle subsequently flipped, he managed to escape injury. The driver of the other car suffered cuts, however, while a passenger broke a wrist. There was also a nine-month-old baby in the back seat of the vehicle, who thankfully was unhurt.
It seemed, then, that as neither Philip nor the people in the other car had been seriously injured, the duke had had a very lucky escape. However, when the royal was photographed driving again the very next day, a media uproar ensued. And this was only exacerbated when the driver of the other car revealed that Philip hadn’t contacted her to check on her wellbeing following the crash.
Philip did eventually write a personal letter to the woman – dated five days after the accident – and the driver duly accepted this. Even so, damage had already been done to the royal’s reputation. And perhaps in an attempt to avoid further furor, Buckingham Palace ultimately made the announcement that Philip was voluntarily surrendering his driving license.
Then in November 2019 the Queen’s son Prince Andrew became embroiled in his own controversy. During that month, the Duke of York was interviewed by the BBC about his longstanding connection to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein had been implicated in sex trafficking and sexually abusing underage girls and had later taken his own life while in jail awaiting trial.
Andrew himself, meanwhile, has been accused of sleeping with then-17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, who had allegedly been provided to him by Epstein. In the interview, though, the prince maintained that he had “no recollection of ever meeting [Giuffre].” He also claimed that he didn’t regret his close relationship with Epstein and is said to have shown no sympathy towards the former financier’s reported victims.
Unfortunately for Andrew, though, his words were torn apart in the media, with journalists and regular citizens alike pointing to inconsistencies in his recollection of events. One of the royal’s arguably most preposterous assertions was seemingly debunked, too. Specifically, Andrew insisted that, at the time of his alleged crimes, a medical condition had stopped him from sweating – yet photos from around that period appeared to suggest otherwise.
But following the outrage that ensued from his ill-advised interview, Andrew issued a statement in which he did express regret about associating with Epstein. The prince added, “I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure” and concluded by saying that he was “stepping back” from his usual public duties.
Then there have been Harry and Meghan Markle’s battles with the British press as well as the extensive social media abuse targeting the duchess. In March 2019 it was revealed that staff at Kensington Palace were becoming more vigilant about insults and threats made towards Meghan on Twitter and Instagram. Software was being used to filter out a list of offensive words, and abusive accounts were being blocked.
Then in October Meghan sued the Mail on Sunday, alleging that the newspaper had illegally published a private letter she had written to her father. And Harry issued a damning indictment of the media in defense of his wife. “Unfortunately, [Meghan] has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences,” he stated.
Harry even went on to compare the way in which Meghan had been treated to the fate of his late mother, Princess Diana. He wrote, “My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother, and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Harry himself would go on to take legal action against British publications The Sun and the Daily Mirror. In particular, he accused employees of the two newspapers of having hacked his phone in order to facilitate, as a Buckingham Palace spokesman put it, the “illegal interception of voicemail messages.” The announcement of these legal proceedings came only a few days after the prince’s scathing attack on the press.
But would Harry be comfortable with these events being covered on The Crown? Well, in January 2020, biographer Angela Levin gave an answer to that question during an interview with BBC Breakfast. Levin had previously had conversations with the royal while writing Harry: A Biography of a Prince, and she claimed that the Duke of Sussex had dived right into an unexpected topic of conversation as soon as they had met.
“Harry, when I went to interview him in the palace,” Levin explained, “the first thing he said to me when he shook my hand was, ‘Are you watching The Crown?’ And I hadn’t been at the time. I felt very embarrassed, and I got it.”
However, Levin continued, “[Harry] said, ‘I’m going to make sure I stop it before they get to me.’” And even though the prince’s words were couched in the context of a jokey exchange, they seemed to suggest that he wasn’t keen on seeing his life play out on screen.
Perhaps, though, Harry has no cause for concern when it comes to the hit Netflix show. Indeed, when The Crown creator Peter Morgan was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly in January 2020, he made it perfectly clear that he has no intention of writing about the prince or his wife. Morgan even went as far as to assert, “I’ve got nothing to say about Meghan Markle.”
Morgan explained his stance further, saying, “I know how my show is going to end – but that’s long before where we are now.” And he added, “I feel uncomfortable writing about events within a certain time period. I think there’s a certain amount of time within which, if you write about it, what you do instantly becomes journalistic.”
In short, Morgan believed that years needed to have passed before he could comfortably incorporate real-life events into a Crown script. “If you wait a certain amount of time, if you allow 15 or 20 years – basically a generation – between you and [the events], then you can write about it freely as drama,” he added.
So, while Morgan believes there may be scope to dramatize Harry and Meghan’s story, he wouldn’t do so now. “Let’s wait 20 years and see what there is to say about Meghan Markle,” he said. “I don’t know what there is to say about Meghan Markle at the moment. I wouldn’t know, and I wouldn’t presume.”
And Morgan concluded by saying that Meghan would “only become interesting once we’ve had 20 years to digest who she is and what her impact has been.” The show creator isn’t the only person involved with The Crown to say something to this effect, either.
In an interview given to news agency PA in January 2020, the show’s executive producer Suzanne Mackie also suggested that Harry and Meghan’s relationship wouldn’t feature on The Crown. And her reasoning was virtually the same as Morgan’s: they don’t plan to take the show that close to modern-day events.
“To be honest,” Mackie said, “whatever the life of The Crown is after where we are now, I doubt we’ll ever go as far into the present day. I think we’ll probably… we don’t travel into the present day.” And hopefully this will alleviate any fears that Harry may have – although given where the series is heading, it’s easy to see why he may be concerned.
After all, the show is edging closer and closer to the 21st century. The third season of The Crown is set between 1964 and 1977 and naturally takes in several key events of those years – the end of the marriage between Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon being among them. In a plotline that may be somewhat closer to home for Harry, though, season three also sees the early stages of romance between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.
And season four – for which filming has already begun – will take the story into the 1980s. This naturally means that Harry’s late mother, Diana, will feature. An actor portraying Harry himself may even make an appearance, as the prince was born in 1984.
But while Harry may have suggested that he doesn’t want to see himself in The Crown, the feelings of the rest of the royal family aren’t quite so explicit. Nevertheless, Vanessa Kirby, who starred as Princess Margaret in seasons one and two of the show, has suggested that the Queen has indeed seen the series.
Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar in 2018, Kirby claimed that, at a party, Princess Eugenie had told one of her friends that her “granny watches [The Crown] and really likes it.” And Olivia Colman – who plays the Queen in season three – has hinted at Prince William’s familiarity with the show, too.
During a 2019 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, the Oscar winner revealed, “I met Prince William at a dinner, and he asked what I was doing at the moment. However, Colman went on, “[William] quickly added, ‘Actually, I know what you’re doing.’” Clearly, he had an idea that the actress was playing his grandmother.
Colman added, “I was so excited and asked, ‘Have you watched it?’” Unfortunately for her and for fans of The Crown, though, William’s answer “was a firm, ‘No.’” Still, she did clarify that William was “very charming and very lovely,” so she wasn’t too upset that he seemingly had no intention of viewing the show.
And Harry’s throwaway remark that he would stop The Crown before it dramatizes his life story can be seen in a different light after he and Meghan decided to pull back from royal duties. This highly controversial decision, which was announced in January 2020, allegedly rocked the Windsors; it also provoked considerable debate and discussion among the British public and media.
In a statement, Harry and Meghan announced that they intended to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family” and instead “work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.” This led some to suggest that the couple’s message was effectively their way of resigning from official public duties.
Then, ten days after that bombshell was made, the Queen released an official statement on the matter. “Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions,” the monarch wrote, “I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.”
The Queen continued, “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family.” And she seemingly acknowledged the pair’s troubles with the British press, writing, “I recognize the challenges they have experienced as the result of intense scrutiny over the last two years.”
Overall, then, the Queen supported “[Harry and Meghan’s] wish for a more independent life.” And she thanked the couple for “all their dedicated work across [the U.K.], the Commonwealth and beyond” before revealing that she was “proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”
Then the Queen concluded her statement, “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.” Even so, the finer details of Harry and Meghan’s new arrangement had to be sorted out. And another message duly came from Buckingham Palace, explaining the compromises that had been reached.
The update clarified that Harry and Meghan would no longer use their ‘HRH’ royal titles, meaning no one should now refer to them as “His/Her Royal Highness.” They will also not be paid via public funds in the future, although some of their “private patronages and associations” were expected to continue.
And the statement confirmed that, even though “they can no longer formally represent the Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.” Now that Harry and Meghan have moved from the U.K. to Los Angeles, then, they’re ready for the next steps of their new life together.